I didn't grow up eating roast chicken for Sunday supper. But almost every cookbook I've ever read cites roast chicken as a Sunday staple, a concretization of home and plenty. Melissa Clark talks about "roasting" as if it were an American standard; Ina Garten laughs about the preposterousness of cooking anything other than roast chicken for Jeffrey when he comes home for the weekend; even British royalty Nigella Lawson, in her debut book How to Eat, provides as her first recipe (ever) a roast chicken with lemon, of which her mother would make two (one for dinner, another for picking at throughout the week). Growing up in my house, however — in suburban, peachtree Georgia — the first roast chicken that ever graced our table was the one I made when I was 13, after spending one weekend glued to the couch watching too much Food Network.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is: the anxiety I feel with this election transcends gender (as a child of my mother's cooking, as a Clinton-era kid), and transcends even race and cultural history (as a first-generation Korean American who didn't grow up with the all-American roast bird). Because the thing is, it's the chicken I roast every Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter for my family that reminds me of the context — the political infrastructure, the armature — that has allowed us, so many of us, to exist here in this country all these years as a legacy, as part of the narrative that says roast chicken should be on my family's Sunday table at all. In my twentysomething years of living, I don't know that I've ever had to look that in the face as something I could potentially lose.
1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
Small handful mushrooms, halved if big, left whole if small
1 shallot, sliced
Pinch herbes de Provence, especially one with lavender
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably one made with Better than Bouillon
1/2 cup cream
First, season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Then, in a Dutch oven, braiser, or other heavy-bottomed, oven-safe skillet on medium-low, heat some olive oil and fry the chicken, skin-side down, about 8 solid minutes. Flip over and pop into a 350-degree oven for 20–25 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken thighs). When the chicken is done cooking, remove from the pan and set aside while you prepare the sauce.
In this uber-fatty, chickeny pan, sauté the mushrooms until burnished and golden. Set aside. Add the shallot and cool until translucent and a little caramelized. Stir in the herbes de Provence and splash in the vermouth and chicken stock. Let this bubble up until syrupy and significantly reduced by about half. Finally, blush the vermouthy stock with the cream, and let that bubble up until reduced into a thickish gravy-like sauce.^ Add back the mushrooms, as well as the chicken — making sure that the sauce doesn't touch its crispy skin — and warm through on low heat for about a minute.
^I personally like to add escarole or spinach at this stage. Cooked down into that cream sauce, irony greens end up like a sort of makeshift creamed spinach, which tastes wonderful.